By Jerry Del Priore
You can feel a certain undeniable buzz in the air in the hallways of August Martin High School. The last time the South Jamaica, Queens, school fielded a PSAL varsity football team was during the 2013 season. But that has all change now since August Martin has hired Kyle Allen to guide the Falcons, and everyone is going full tilt to support the program.
“They’re just so welcoming and so supportive here, and so excited here,” Allen said of the school’s administration, as well as the students. “There are kids here dedicated to a cause of just building themselves into better people. It just excites me. Even students in the building are just excited about it. The cheerleaders are excited, the staff is excited, security is excited—everybody is excited. They’re talking about homecoming parades.”
Athletic director Andre Key is just happy to see a team on the gridiron, as he said students were leaving the school because there wasn’t a gridiron squad.
“We’re just happy to see coach Allen put together this team,” Key said. “Kids were leaving August Martin because a lack of a football team at the school. Even if they don’t win a game, it’s a big thing to have a team again, and coach Allen’s leadership and experience will be big factors in the process.”
Though the fledging football program is engaging in spring practices at the moment, the roster is up to 42 members, and there already are some talented players on the team, according to Brooklyn-born Allen, who coached six seasons at Canarsie High School in Brooklyn.
First, there’s rising sophomore quarterback Tyler Parham, who will guide the Falcons’ offense.
“He has a real strong arm, real gusty kid, real coachable,” the former CW Post University wide receiver said. “We’ve been working a lot of his mechanics. He’s been coming along really well.”
Then there’s defense lineman Storm Saxon, a fast, six-foot-two, 250-pound rising sophomore, and Nazire Blake, another rising sophomore who will man the middle linebacker and tight end positions.
“I’m very excited, actually,” Blake said in all earnest. “I can’t wait ‘til the season starts.”
Saxon, who played youth football for the Springfield Rifles, was all set to leave the school, but the football program changed that.
“When I first heard they didn’t have a football team, I was kind of bummed,” Saxon said. “But eventually, they said they were going to get one. It made me want to stay here, because at first, I wasn’t going to stay.”
Plus, senior Christopher Sterling, who Allen said, “He’ll probably be our best receiver and our best defensive back.”
“I’m totally excited,” Sterling said. “I’ve waited to play football for August Martin for a long time.”
In addition, rising senior tailback Ashton Glasgow, who played youth football for the Bayside Raiders, and his “Football IQ is evident,” per Allen.
Ranked 16 out of 16 teams in the PSAL’s Cup division (the lowest rung on the ladder), and playing all its 2018 games on the road as the Falcons await a new home field, which will break ground in the summer, Allen believes that August Martin has nothing to lose. And can only benefit from its present circumstances.
“We’re going to be homeless, we’re going to be hungry. We’re literally coming from nothing, rising from the dust,” the former South Jamaica, Queens, resident explained. “We want to be able to surprise teams. Nothing is expected from us. And that makes you dangerous when there’s no pressure. Nobody believes that, as of right now, we’re any kind of a threat. So, that’s a beautiful situation.”
While there’s isn’t any pressure to win right away, Allen said, the Falcons coaching staff—which includes assistants Chris Sino and Robert Palmer, both of whom were on Allen’s staff at Canarsie—believes it’s crucial that they win from the get go.
“They haven’t put me under any kind of pressure to win,” he said of the school’s administration. “They said, ‘Put a team on the field.’ But we’re putting ourselves under pressure to win. It is imperative that we come out on high note so people will believe in us. It’s imperative we win early, and often.”
Nevertheless, Allen is hoping that August Martin gets some support from its distinguished alumni, which includes the likes of top former college running back Alishma Alexander (Ole Miss); Tutan Reyes (NFL); Lloyd Banks of G-Unit fame; and Def Jam Records cofounder Russell Simmons.
“Hopefully, these celebrities come back and help put this thing back together, and throw a couple dollars at these kids,” Allen said. “Make it worth the kids’ while.”
The Falcons open up the season on Saturday, September 15th at noon against Information Technology, with an undetermined field at the moment.